I am so happy this morning, I can’t tell you.
Even is this wasn’t a free serial, this would be amazing. When we were doing it, people told us that we were crazy and the investment of time and effort would never pay off. Who would buy the book if it was free already? Apparently tons of people.
Thank you so much. You made my day.
I absolutely love the holidays. My two sons and their families live close so we see each other often, but getting together during the holidays is doubly fun. There are some excellent cooks among us, so our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are superb. Some of us like to experiment with new dishes, while others want to make family recipes we’ve enjoyed for years.
This year, we wanted to include my mother’s scalloped oysters in the Thanksgiving menu. I have her recipe, and it was delicious as always, even if it did take several of us to put it together. Crowded kitchens are more fun anyway. So many of my friends mentioned making their mother’s recipes. Getting them to turn out just the way we remember them can be an entertaining challenge.
When my mother moved into a retirement home, she gave me all her cooking things plus her little recipe boxes. I refer to them often, but some of my favorites aren’t there, and I struggle to recreate them now. I wish I had sorted through the recipes and asked for those I couldn’t find. My mother made an incredibly good meatloaf and my attempts just don’t measure up. I’ll keep trying until I reach the magic mix of ingredients.
For those of you with large families, holidays are the perfect time to record memories. Ask your grandparents about their childhoods and take notes. Most people are happy to talk about their life. I gave my mother a journal and asked her to record some of her favorite memories. She wrote a beautiful piece about the day I was born, but then didn’t continue. I should have interviewed her and kept the journal going as I’d hoped it would be. Once our loved ones are gone, it’s too late to ask questions. I know my mother’s story, and need to follow my own advice and write what I know about her and my father for my children and grandchildren. I should also begin writing my own memoir for my family.
The holidays are an excellent time to sort through old photos. The mother of a close friend passed away and in cleaning out her house, my friend found boxes of photos of relatives she couldn’t name. After the funeral, one of her aunts volunteered to take the photos and write the names and dates she could remember. It’s important to save our family history and photos are a wonderful way to do it. Just remember to add names and dates to your photos now. You may have many images saved on your computer, but did you add names and dates? You’ll want them later.
When a family friend married a bullfighter’s daughter, I was immediately inspired to make up my own story about a matador’s family. Wealthy men often have multiple wives and clusters of children which makes a rich resource for characters. I created the Aragon family as a diverse group for FIERCE LOVE, once the book was finished, I couldn’t let them go and began a new story with the bullfighter’s son as the hero for FIERCE PRIDE. The book ends at Christmastime and of course has a happy ending. There were still more stories to tell and the heroine of FIERCE PASSION was once the matador’s mistress. She is an haute couture model bothered by a stalker who sends her a gift of kittens and a lover who fails to reveal he’s the heir to a shipping fortune. The story is filled with twists and turns, and still may not be the end of the FIERCE series. There is a set of twins, you see, one who is always in trouble and one who wouldn’t dare. They deserve a book of their own too and will keep me busy in 2014.
I wish you Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year. Please shop in your local bookstore for the perfect gifts for everyone, books!
• What are you currently reading?
SO MANY THINGS.
Just going by my bookmarks... *deep breath* The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig, The Women's Room by Marilyn French, Selected Poems of Anne Sexton, Dante's Purgatorio, Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, The Borgias by GJ Meyer, The Book That Changed My Life, Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George, Catching Fire, Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits, The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, Possession by A.S. Byatt, Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin, Stephanie Burgis's Kat, Incorrigable for the nth time, and Alanna: The First Adventure, also for the nth time. Because fuck yeah Alanna.
Seventeen books at a time is somewhat unusual for me, I promise. Usually it's more like five.
• What did you recently finish reading?
Sonnets from the Portuguese. I love Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and I really love her relationship with her husband-- they both were really gone over each other, with Robert Browning in particular being a TOTAL RIDICULOUS FANGIRL over everything his wife wrote. Everything. Even before they married. Even before they met. He essentially married his literary idol. Seriously, though, the sonnets are lovely and very sweet. I just read through all forty-five of them in one or two sittings.
Dante's Inferno. THIS SHIT IS HILARIOUS, GUYS. I mean, yeah, like 60% of it is really creative description of horrific torments and terrors, but the rest of it is 30% Dante and Virgil fanboying over each other, 9% Dante smack-talking literally everyone in Italy who is not him (including someone implied to be a member of his immediate family), and 1% sinners flipping God the bird.
Well, Dante called it "the fig." But we all know what he meant.
Heavy Words Lightly Thrown, by Chris Roberts. Eh. It's a fun read mostly, and pretty educational as to the history behind various rhymes (I had no idea Jack Horner was related to Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, for example). However, the author uses (and misdefines!) a hideously unnecessary transphobic slur when discussing "William and Mary, George and Anne," and there's some gross fat-shaming in "Georgie Porgie." So, basically, entertaining book, but I'd get it out of the library, and if you're sensitive to either, skip the two mentioned chapters.
Seriously, the transphobic slur wasn't even necessary, he just threw it in there offhand. Gross.
The Heroine's Bookshelf, by Erin Blakemore. This was... okay? I'd read 11 of 12 of the books Blakemore mentions, and I don't agree with all of her conclusions. Still, it's a fun little literary criticism read, if you're interested in that kind of thing.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Oh, God only knows. In the Hand of the Goddess for sure, and Renegade Magic. Probably Princess of Silver and Affinity by Sarah Waters as well. Apart from that... who knows? So many books, so little time.
This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/22791
Requester yifu asked "Favorite type of superpowers?"
The question here being favorite type of superpowers to have, or favorite type of superpowers general? It's cool, I'll answer both.
My favorite type of superpowers in general is the ability to see the future. I mean, think of the stories! Imagine being able to see the future but not being able to change it in any way. If you know what's going to happen, you're never going to be surprised, but also helpless. How would you come to believe you couldn't change the future? What would make you try anyway?
And what if you see only snippets of the future? Or only a possible future? How would you live your life knowing that? Would you try to avert the bits you saw? Would you try to bring them about? Would you do nothing, believing you can't affect it? SO MANY STORIES YOU GUYS OMG. I love future-seeing powers.
THAT SAID I would legitimately never want those powers ever. They're frustrating and painful and very likely to drag you into an upsetting story where lots of people die and you know about it and can't stop it. I do not want to live that. I'd much rather be able to teleport, because then I could see all you lovely people and move painlessly and work anywhere in the world and still sleep in my own bed at night.
Plus I could go all the places in the world that I want to go without having to take planes. I hate flying so much for someone who actually likes to go to new places.
This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/22765
Warrior dude is Ethan, part demon, bullet inoperable next to his heart may kill him any minute now.
Issue girl is Mary Alice Brannigan aka MAB and if that sounds familiar, it's from Shakespeare and a speech by Mercutio, ""O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you." She, too, is part demon. There's a lot of that going around.
Take heart! Kick-Ass and Fairy girl are NOT each others' ones and onlys. Think of them as Luke and Leia (brother and sister, as much as Jedi.) The theme here is Power of Five (not three) like Power Rangers or Voltron or something. Five Guardians of five untouchable Etruscan demons. Cue the Buffy theme, except for five Scoobies and no slayers, which is fine since the demons can't be slain.
The demons are confined to their cells, which are wooden chalices, until an evil human releases the one that was a Bacchus look-alike. He, in turn, frees the vengeance demon. Wacky demon hijinks ensue. Sex and true love break out all over, too. Every time one of the Scoobies (called Gardia) gets killed, another potential rises to take their place. Halloween is a climax, but not the end.
Worth reading. I give it seventeen stars, on a scale of a bunch stars are good.
What are you currently reading
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Not far enough into it to have an opinion.
I'm a few chapters into Rose of Versailles, and it's very different, so far, from the anime, which I knew to expect going in, as the mangaka started it expecting to do a series about Marie Antoinette.
What did you recently finish reading?
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Dreaming of Paradise by Fuyumi Ono, and all of Venus Capriccio by Nishikata Mai, all of which I posted on separately.
Young Miss Holmes Vol 5-7 by Kaoru Shintani. These volumes are available in the US as a single omnibus inthe US, and complete the series. I understand there's a sequel, but haven't found it anywhere yet. This is the manga about Sherlock Holmes's crime solving niece, and it is great, though I don't have anything to add that I didn't say about it when I read the other volumes earlier this year.
Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki, Vol 1-8: Shounen series set in a pseudo-Victorian world about a boy who falls into an abyss, gets linked to a residence of the abyss named Alice, and pops back out 10 years later, thinking it's only been a few minutes. Alice in Wonderland references are a dime a dozen, but in a fun way. I read a bit of this when it first hit stateside, liked it, but kept not getting back to it. The actual plot, once stripped of the trappings, is fairly typical shounen, but I find it very entertaining and enjoy the characters and am generally a sucker for "Lookit my Lewis Carroll references, aren't the clever in their blatancy?" Also, the main character, Oz, gets spoiled for a major character death in his favorite book series (that he's now 10 years behind on) and pretty much has what's my internal reaction anytime someone blithely lets out major spoilers for something I'm reading/watching. Except that his reaction is very very external.
There is one thing that bugs me though.
( spoilerCollapse )
What do you think you'll read next?
Pretty sure reading the rest of what i'm on now will keep me occupied for a bit.
So if you want to do a little browsing for yourself, or maybe you've got someone to shop for, won't you take a look?
2013 Epic Book Sale: Round One
by Carolyn Meyer
Before the name “Hermione” became synonymous with Harry Potter's brainy best friend, it belonged to the only daughter of Helen of Troy. Hermione has always lived in the shadow of her mother's legendary beauty. When Helen disappears from their home in Sparta with Paris, prince of Troy, Hermione convinces herself that her mother was kidnapped. When Menalaus and his brother Agamemnon declare war on Troy, Hermione even sneaks aboard a ship and travels with the soldiers to their camp outside the city walls. For ten years, she and her fellow Greeks wait as the men fight and the women pray for the gods and goddesses to intervene and end the war. Finally, the Trojans are defeated and Menalaus is reunited with his wife, but Hermione's adventures are just beginning as she marries Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, and joins him as the queen of Phthia, where new trials confront her daily.
Very little about Hermione survives in the traditional Greek myths. She is the daughter of Menalaus and Helen, and her grandfather betroths her to Orestes. In one version of her story, her father is unaware of the betrothal, and in another he knowingly breaks it. Either way, she ends up married to the son of Achilles. Eventually she is reunited with Orestes after the death of her husband.
This bare framework is an excellent place to weave a story, and Carolyn Meyer's account of Hermione's childhood and life in the Greek camps is both convincing and compelling. The relationship between Hermione and her mother is strained, often distant. Hermione wryly observes in an early chapter that while her memory is good, Helen doesn't need to remember anything because her simple existence is enough to bring pleasure. It becomes increasingly clear as time passes that Hermione is clever and observant, but these traits hold no interest to Helen, who simply criticizes her daughter's appearance or chatters about her own magnificent and manifest attractions.
A good chunk of the early chapters is spent recounting the myths of Helen's life: her miraculous birth, her kidnapping by Theseus, and her many suitors. When visiting their cousins in Mycenae, the women and girls gossip about Paris, the hunky new prince of Troy, and more mythology is piled on for the reader. This could have been little more than a massive info-dump, but Meyer's chattering women make the conversation seem natural, even normal.
The first half of the book focuses on Hermione and her relationship with her parents, and it's rather sad. After her mother and Paris run away, Hermione realizes that neither her mother nor her father love her enough to place her before their own desires. Menalaus thinks only of Helen when she's gone, and Helen seems only to think of herself. When she is married off to Pyrrhus against her will, it's the last straw; Hermione mentally divorces herself from her parents, and their relationship never recovers. The second half of the narrative is her quest for love and acceptance – first, she seeks with her friends and handmaids in her husband's home, and later at the side of her cousin Orestes.
One thing I always think about in stories about the Trojan War is the role of the gods. In some versions, they are invisible, and any effect they have must be surmised by priests and soothsayers. In others, the gods are active participants. Beauty's Daughter goes with this second option, which means that the supernatural can and does happen. Gods can lift a man away from a battlefield before his fellow soldiers or strike a man down for insulting them. Curses can be effective tools of revenge. It adds an additional layer of unpredictability to the story's events.
Eventually, Hermione gets her happy ending. The book is a great introduction to myths about Troy, or a fine supplement since it finally fleshes out a character who is only mentioned in passing in the original tales.
4 out of 5 stars
To read more about Beauty's Daughter, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Egyptology (Ologies #2) by Emily Sands and Dugald Steer
2011: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
2010: The Candidates (Delacroix Academy #1) by Inara Scott
2009: Going on hiatus...
2008: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
A little later than planned, my short story set in the world of The Iron Witch (and set after The Stone Demon), will be live on this website on Monday, 6th January 2014. I thought it might be better to avoid the busy Christmas period so that more people will be around to enjoy it.
It’s a free story (about 8-10,000 words, though we’ll see how that turns out) and I’m halfway through writing it at the moment. Hopefully I’ll have a couple of surprises for you along the way – I’m in the process of trying to get something super cool organised, which is part of the reason for pushing back the date a couple of weeks. The story is my way of saying THANK YOU to all my lovely readers.
Watch this space – and my Facebook page – for more news…